Rhapsody in Blue
Death Valley National Park, California, USA (2016)
Sometimes after the sun goes down, nature decides to perform an encore. Much like encores at musical concerts, the extension of the main show can be the highlight of the whole event. Such was the case for me when our glowy, atmospheric outing on the dunes took a dramatic, moody turn right after sundown. The entire area did a grand about-face and transformed itself into a whole new aesthetic. Instead of the sky simply going grey and dark, the late ambient light found all the right openings and gave the low storm clouds that special inner glow, imbuing them with rich blues and greens and emphasizing their fantastic textures.
Since I was leading a workshop at the time, I was mostly concentrating on instruction, and I barely remember shooting this scene. My strongest memory is asking a 70-year-old participant if he would like to stay out and keep shooting or if I should escort him back. It had been a long outing with a fair amount of hiking on the dunes, and I wanted to make sure that he was comfortable. His reply was an unequivocal “yes”: he didn’t want to miss this opportunity! His enthusiasm was really charming, and we remained out long after the light began to wane. I actually told my partner (co-leader Ted Gore) that I was sorry not to have been able to get any photos of my own that evening, but that I had great memories of the outing nonetheless.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to discover this photo in my cache of files from that trip. It is actually a total of three files shot for dynamic range and a perspective blend, so I was clearly shooting with intent at the time, although I have almost no recollection of it. The photo is therefore something of an encore itself, a latecomer of a treat that I did not expect.